The First Look at 'The Forsyte Saga' Sees 'Doctor Who' Companion Millie Gibson Step Back In Time

Millie Gibson as Irene on her wedding day in 'The Forsyte Saga' Season 1

Millie Gibson as Irene in 'The Forsyte Saga' Season 1

Sean Gleason/Mammoth Screen/Masterpiece

Period dramas can run the gamut when it comes to scope, tone, and subject. However, there are a handful that are continually held up as examples of the best of what the genre can be and do: Brideshead Revisited, The Jewel in the Crown, Pride and Prejudice (Colin Firth's Version), Downton Abbey, and The Forsyte Saga. The last of those is a sprawling, messy story of a wealthy family in 1880s London as they wrestle with often conflicting motivations of duty and desire. The original 1967 adaptation was a massive hit for both the BBC and public television here in America, where it laid the foundation for what would become the Masterpiece brand at PBS. ITV remade the series in 2002 with Damien Lewis (Wolf Hall) and Gina McKee (The End We Start From), which also crossed the pond to delight PBS viewers. Twenty years later, Masterpiece is taking charge, partnering with Mammoth Screen (Victoria) to produce a brand new, all-star update of a classic. 

This latest take on John Galsworthy’s Forsyte novels hails from Debbie Horsfield, who brought PBS's recent Poldark adaptation to the small screen. Billed as a "reimagining" of the original, it aims to update the series' world and give its female characters more to do. “It was an honor to be asked to write a bold new reimagining of Galsworthy's epic saga," Horsfield said in a statement. "Our show is in part a prequel to the events of the first book, but also an opportunity to expand the world and place the women of the family center stage. It’s a love letter to the original story while offering an exciting new perspective." 

Our first look at the new series bears that out, putting Doctor Who companion Millie Gibson front and center as Irene — now apparently reimagined as a ballet dancer — alongside Joshua Orpin (Titans) as Soames, the shrewd and occasionally ruthless Forsyte son who falls hopelessly in love with her. 

Millie Gibson as Irene and Joshua Orpin as Soames on their wedding day in 'The Forsyte Saga' Season 1

Millie Gibson as Irene and Joshua Orpin as Soames in 'The Forsyte Saga' Season 1

Sean Gleason/Mammoth Screen/Masterpiece

Here’s the series (wildly basic) synopsis, which is helpful if only because it confirms the show is being approached from the start as a multi-season affair.

The first season of six episodes follows the lives of the wealthy Forsyte family in 1880s London and is based on John Galsworthy’s Nobel Prize-winning tale of love, loyalty, ambition, and betrayal

The series stars Francesca Annis (Flesh & Blood) as Forsyte matriarch Ann, Stephen Moyer (Sexy Beast) as her eldest son, Jolyon Senior, and Jack Davenport (Ten Percent) as competitive younger son James. Danny Griffin (The Gentlemen) plays Jolyon Sr.’s bohemian son Jo, Tuppence Middleton (Our House) is Jo’s status-driven wife Frances, and Eleanor Tomlinson (The Outlaws) plays Louisa Byrne, a Soho dressmaker who is Jo’s first love, and Tom Durant Pritchard (Miss Scarlet) plays Monty Dartie, James’ son-in-law. 

Other notable members of the series’ sprawling ensemble cast include Josette Simon (Broadchurch), Jamie Flatters (Liar), Owen Igiehon (Disclaimer), and original 1967The Forsyte Saga star Susan Hampshire OBE, who plays Lady Carteret in this version.

This adaptation is written by Horsfield, directed by Meenu Gaur (Murder Is Easy) and Annetta Laufer (Get Millie Black), and produced by Sarah Lewis (The Long Shadow). 

Filming began last month in locations in England, Wales, and Italy. There’s no airdate yet for The Forsyte Saga, but it’s expected to arrive in 2025. 

Lacy Baugher

Lacy's love of British TV is embarrassingly extensive, but primarily centers around evangelizing all things Doctor Who, and watching as many period dramas as possible.

Digital media type by day, she also has a fairly useless degree in British medieval literature, and dearly loves to talk about dream poetry, liminality, and the medieval religious vision. (Sadly, that opportunity presents itself very infrequently.) York apologist, Ninth Doctor enthusiast, and unabashed Ravenclaw. Say hi on Threads or Blue Sky at @LacyMB. 

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